Punishments for Vandalism in Texas
Depending on the severity of the vandalism, you could face years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. So how does Texas classify vandalism, and what are the associated punishments? We address these questions below.
Definition of Criminal Mischief
Texas law classifies vandalism as a form of criminal mischief, or the willful act of destroying, defacing, or altering someone else’s property. In order to convict you, the court must prove that you:
- Acted to destroy or damage someone else’s property without the owner’s permission.
- Caused monetary loss or inconvenience by tampering with property without the owner’s permission.
- Made marks, drawings, paintings, descriptions, or inscriptions on property without the owner’s permission.
Criminal mischief charges encompass a number of crimes, including graffiti and vandalism. Here’s how these crimes differ:
- Criminal mischief is any willful behavior or act with the purpose of destroying or defacing someone’s property.
- Vandalism is an explicit act of defacing someone’s property and is a form of criminal mischief.
- Graffiti is explicit, unauthorized writing on someone’s property and is a form of vandalism and criminal mischief.
Vandalism Charges in Texas
Although the crimes themselves may differ, vandalism, graffiti, and other forms of criminal mischief all carry the same punishments. The sentences specifically depend on the amount of damage caused by the crime itself. As the cost of the damage increases, so does the severity of the crime.
- If the damage is less than $100 or causes the owner substantial inconvenience, the crime is a Class C misdemeanor and is punishable by a $500 fine.
- If the damage is between $100 and $750, the crime is a Class B misdemeanor and is punishable by up to $2,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail.
- If the damage is between $750 and $2,500, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to $4,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail.
- If the damage is between $2,500 and $30,000, the crime is a state jail felony and is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and between 180 days and 2 years in state jail.
- If the damage is between $30,000 and $150,000, the crime is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and between 2 and 10 years in prison.
- If the damage is between $150,000 and $300,000, the crime is a second-degree felony and is punishable by between 2 and 20 years in prison.
- If the damage is greater than $300,000, the crime is a first-degree felony. Criminal mischief cases of this caliber are very rare, and are punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and between 5 and 99 years, or life, in prison.
Our Fort Worth Vandalism Defense Attorneys Can Help Defend You
Whether you are facing a criminal mischief misdemeanor or felony, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you. At The Clark Law Firm, our Fort Worth attorneys have over 35 years of combined experience and have a reputation for successfully defending juveniles and adults against these criminal charges. Contact our firm today to discuss your charges during a free consultation.
We are ready to help defend you. Call (817) 435-4970 to discuss your case with a professional Fort Worth vandalism defense attorney.